Texas Governor Greg Abbott appealed an order from a federal judge directing the state to remove a floating barrier from the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass.
The federal government has argued the barrier, a series of large orange buoys, should not have been placed in international waters. Texas has counterclaimed the barrier is a necessary part of its efforts to prevent illegal immigration into the United States from Mexico.
Federal District Judge David A. Ezra ordered Texas to remove the barrier by Sept. 15.
“Governor Abbott announced that he was not ‘asking for permission’ for Operation Lone Star, the anti-immigration program under which Texas constructed the floating barrier,” wrote Ezra in his preliminary injunction, which was issued on Sept. 6. “Unfortunately for Texas, permission is exactly what federal law requires before installing obstructions in the nation’s navigable waters.”
Ezra said the federal government had presented evidence that the buoy barrier impedes navigation of the river in violation of the Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899 and that Texas did not “present any credible evidence that the buoy barrier as installed has significantly curtailed illegal immigration.”
In its lawsuit, the Biden administration said the barrier violated Section 10 of the RHA as it was constructed without authorization from the United States Army Corps of Engineers and obstructs “the navigable capacity of any of the waters of the United States” without Congressional approval.
“The Court finds that the barrier’s threat to human life, its impairment to free and safe navigation, and its contraindication to the balance of priorities Congress struck in the RHA outweigh Texas’s interest in implementing its buoy barrier in the Rio Grande River,” wrote the judge.
The Department of Justice threatened to sue Texas over the roughly 1,000-foot floating barrier in July.
“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” Abbott said in written response addressed to President Joe Biden.
Abbott has described the barrier and other Operation Lone Star initiatives as part of his “sovereign interest” in protecting Texas’s border.
“The fact is, if you would just enforce the immigration laws Congress already has on the books, America would not be suffering from your record-breaking level of illegal immigration,” Abbott told Biden.
The governor has now asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to reverse Ezra’s preliminary injunction.
“Today’s court decision merely prolongs President Biden’s willful refusal to acknowledge that Texas is rightfully stepping up to do the job that he should have been doing all along,” said Abbott in a press release. “This ruling is incorrect and will be overturned on appeal.”
“We will continue to utilize every strategy to secure the border, including deploying Texas National Guard soldiers and Department of Public Safety troopers and installing strategic barriers,” the governor continued. “Our battle to defend Texas’ sovereign authority to protect lives from the chaos caused by President Biden’s open border policies has only begun. Texas is prepared to take this fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
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